Farmville council adjusts parking fines, sends plan for hearing

Published 3:49 pm Thursday, June 6, 2024

After last month’s public hearing, the Farmville town council went back to the drawing board. Several town residents had argued the planned increases for downtown parking fines was too excessive. At their work session on Wednesday, June 5, the council tried again. 

After Wednesday’s meeting, the current proposal is this. Regular parking fines will stay at $25, but if still unpaid after 30 days, that increases to $50. If you park and block a fire hydrant, that’s a $75 fine, going up to $150 if unpaid after a 30 day period. If you illegally park in a handicapped spot, that would be a $150 fine under this new proposal, climbing to $200 if unpaid after 30 days. 

One thing business owners had been concerned about was the impact on potential out-of-town customers. What if they sent payment through the mail and it didn’t arrive within the 30 day period? Council members also agreed to count it as paid on time if the payment was postmarked within the 30 days. 

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The council also looked at cracking down on those with unpaid fines. 

“Those that have three or more unpaid otherwise unsettled parking violations or citations, we would either tow them or put a boot on the vehicle,” Farmville Town Manager Dr. Scott Davis said. “Towing is better, because if we put a boot, you’ve still got to wait for someone to pay the (fine) and they’re taking up space. If we tow it, it’s at their expense and until they pay their parking fines, they can’t get their vehicle back.” 

Council member Adam Yoelin had asked about cracking down on repeat offenders, but in discussion with Farmville Town Lawyer Gary Elder, the group was told that could be challenging, since the vehicles are tracked by license plate, not driver. For families with just one vehicle, that could pose a problem. As a result, they tabled any discussion about further penalties for repeat offenders. 

Problems not solved 

Davis pointed out the discussion still hasn’t solved one of the main problems he sees, when it comes to parking. 

“It still doesn’t resolve the issue of business owners on Main Street, and I am pointing those out,” Davis said. “There are those on Main Street that are part of the issue. My whole point in asking to raise this is it’s not necessarily the out of town people that are the problem. It’s the in -town people that are the problem.”  

Council member Daniel Dwyer suggested asking the Farmville Downtown Partnership to talk with businesses and possibly leave a note or reminder not to take up the space all day. That was tabled as well. 

Beyond the fines, Farmville Mayor Brian Vincent pointed out there’s not a lack of parking. In fact, there’s quite a lot in the downtown area. The issue is getting people to use it. 

“We have six free parking lots in downtown,” Vincent said. “They’re free. There’s six of them. There’s plenty of space to park. You’ve just got to walk maybe 20 yards to get to Main Street. You can park in the municipal lot by Greenfront and you’re on Main Street.” 

What’s next with parking fines? 

Now to be clear, none of this is set in stone, when it comes to the fines. This also will not be automatically voted on in the next council meeting. First there has to be a public hearing, to discuss the revised proposal. Then it’ll go to a final vote during the council’s July 10 meeting. 

“Where we’re landing here with these fines and the 30 days, I think they’re improvements,” Vincent said. “I think leaving as it sits here, as we corrected it, is a good place. The issue has been raised enough, it’s in people’s minds.”